2008 Buell Lightning Review


Described as an American street fighter, Eric Buell introduced his Lightning S1 in 1996; this motorcycle provided the inspiration for the Lightning XB series that debuted eight years later. For 2008, the Lightning comes in five models: XB12S, TT XB12STT, XB12Scg, XB12Ss, and CITYX XB9SX, all with 1203cc Thunderstorm engines. Classified as a naked bike, the Lightning is not the prettiest motorcycle around; in fact, some have called it ""strange looking."" However, the Lightning is powerful, agile, and works like a freight train as soon as it goes off idle, reaching speeds as high as 140 mph in fifth gear.

The Lightning’s street fighter look is enhanced by two round headlights underneath a small fairing. Riders say it is the Lightning’s Thunderstorm engine that makes it such a great bike; without the powerful V-twin, the Lightning would not be worth anything. Riders note the Harley-Davidson (the Buell line is owned by Harley) motor does vibrate a lot. Riders say the Lightning makes a great commuting bike during the week and a nice touring bike for leisure time. Since a detachable trunk bag is available as an option, weekend trips are a definite possibility, especially since other storage accessories include tank and seat tail bags. Underseat storage is available as well. The XB12S also comes with the standard instruments: a speedometer, odometer, tachometer, and fuel warning light. Available colors are cherry, orange, and black. The XB12S weighs 395 pounds and can carry a driver and passenger with a combined weight of 391 pounds.

New For 2008

  • Cosmetic frame protectors to reduce frame damage in case of an accident
  • Translucid bodywork
  • Pre-wired for optional heated hand grips
  • Commemorative Buell 25th Anniversary graphic on the handlebar clamp
  • Enhanced engine performance
  • New instrument panel styling

2008 Buell Lightning Specs

  • Model: Lightning XB12S
  • Engine Type: Thunderstorm V-Twin, four-stroke
  • Bore and Stroke: 88.9 mm x 96.8 mm
  • Compression ratio: 10.0:1
  • Valve Train: Overhead valve, Pushrod, two valves per cylinder, self-adjusting
  • Induction: 49mm down draft DDFI III fuel injection
  • Ignition: Electronic
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual
  • Final Drive: Goodyear Hybrex belt
  • Fuel Capacity: 3.82 gallons
  • Estimated Fuel Economy: 48/65 mpg city/highway
  • Brakes (Front): ZTL single disc, eight-piston calipers
  • Brakes (Rear): ZTL single disc, two-piston calipers
  • Suspension (Front): 43mm Showa inverted forks with adjustable compression damping, rebound damping, and spring preload
  • Suspension (Rear): Showa coil-over monoshock with adjustable compression damping, rebound damping, and spring preload
  • Wheelbase: 52 inches
  • Rake: 21.0°
  • Trail: 3.3 inches
  • Seat Height: 30.1 inches
  • Curb Weight: 395 pounds
  • Tires (Front): Pirelli Diablo T 120/70-ZR17
  • Tires (Rear): Pirelli Diablo T 180/55-ZR17


  • Buell tool kit
  • Air box covers in assorted colors
  • Carbon fiber front fender
  • Detachable saddlebags
  • Dunlop blackwall tires, front and rear
  • Heated hand grip kit
  • Traction foot pegs for driver and passenger
  • White flyscreen

Key Competitors For The 2008 Buell Lightning

  • Benelli Café Racer 1130
  • Triumph Speed Triple
  • Moto Guzzi Breva 1100
  • Suzuki Bandit 1250
  • MV Agusta Brutale 1078RR